You will notice that I have combined months six and seven into one blog post. There’s a reason for that.
(This post is part of a blog series I write every month on a breathing exercise I began in May. You can find a link to other posts in the series at the end of this blog post.)
At the beginning of month six, I was full of enthusiasm. In the previous months of my breathing practice, I surprised myself by doing new and unexpected things every month.
For example, I started having more energy; going outside more; going on regular walks; walking long distances without really planning to do so; and taking up a regular yoga practice again. So, at the beginning of October (month six), I thought, Who knows what will happen. Maybe I will start doing cartwheels every day.
And I did do a few cartwheels.
But, to be honest, I spent most of October building a fort with twinkly lights…
resting and feeling my feelings (fall always makes me reflective); devouring homemade chocolate chip Nutella bars (they were delicious—recipe at the end); and hibernating like it was my job. I kept up my breathing practice, but my practice was pretty uneven.
I also struggled with walking a lot. The weather got rainier and colder, and my schedule got busier, and I just wasn’t feeling it.
I could have summed up most of the month of October with this one-phrase blog post: “Things are pretty boring here, but I’m still breathing.”
My First Surprise
Despite this mostly uninspiring month, something interesting happened at the end of October.
I went hiking with my friends Jack and Joanna. They are lovely, deep people and kind friends. It was a beautiful day at the nature sanctuary where we hiked.
While hiking, we discussed body positivity, how emotional health is integral to physical health, and the rebellion of our spirits against all forms of dehumanization. (You can read a guest-post Jack wrote for my blog inspired by some of these topics here.)
I felt deeply nourished by this conversation. Time flew by and I asked, “How long have we hiked?”
“Close to six miles, I think,” Jack said.
I was shocked. I have never hiked six miles in my life. The last hike I went on was in the summer. It was about two miles and hot and humid. I remember struggling quite a bit. Now suddenly, a few months later, I had hiked six miles like it was no big deal.
As we approached the end of our hike, I noticed the last part was uphill, and I thought, I want to run up that hill.
And I did.
I ran up the whole thing.
The last time I remember running up a hill on a hike was about twelve years ago.
My Second Surprise
I thought my momentous hike might light a fire under me and get me back walking regularly outside, but most of November was a lot like October.
I slept a lot, I thought a lot, I painted a lot.
I got a terrible cold and watched pretty cliched TV shows nonstop for a few days.
My breathing and walking practices were still off.
But, a few interesting things happened.
I had some meaningful conversations with good friends that helped me process some emotional struggles I have been dealing with for a while.
I felt a big emotional weight lift after these conversations.
Here’s me, hanging out with Van Gogh in my office. It was rainy outside, but my office makes me really happy.
Towards the end of the month, I started walking again. Nothing too exciting happened until a few days ago.
I was walking in the park, and had just completed my second mile, when I heard a little voice inside me say, “You know, running is a lot like walking. It’s just a slightly different movement done a little bit faster. I bet you could do it, and you would like it.”
And all of a sudden I thought, Shoot yeah. I KNOW I can run, and I know I would like it!
And wouldn’t you know it: I started running, and I ended up running A MILE.
I had to stop and stretch my legs a bit, much like I did when I started walking a lot this summer. But it felt really good.
I don’t think I have run a mile since high school.
I came home and reorganized my office so that my fort station now contains a trampoline. It can easily be transformed either into a cozy space for reflection or a playful space for action. Because both reflection and action are a part of health.
And the other day I went walking in the rain. It was my first rain walking adventure. I think the rain is so beautiful.
What I Have Learned
I have loved chronicling my breathing journey so far. I plan to keep up my breathing practice and to report it on my blog, no matter if I have great months or boring months. I am excited to see what happens in months eight through twelve.
In looking back over the past seven months here are some important things I have learned:
One: Beautiful and long-lasting change comes whenever we commit ourselves to authentic self-love and care. One of my friends said to me the other day, “Your commitment to self-care is awesome.”
I greatly appreciate that compliment, and I also realized that I view self-care as essential. I really can’t make any good, long-term change unless I am kind and supportive to myself. It helps me to be a better person to myself and others.
Two: Breathing well is foundational to self-love and self-care. If we do not breath well, we constantly feel agitated, foggy, lethargic, and confused. It is hard to care for ourselves or others well in this state.
Three: When we spend time connecting with ourselves through breathing, stillness, and kindness, we start to listen to what our bodies need.
Our bodies are good communicators and will say things like, “Let’s try going outside more.” “Let’s try walking more.” “Let’s rest and eat cookies.” “Let’s build a fort.” “Let’s take lots of naps.” “Let’s talk about painful emotions with caring friends.”
Positive change can be slow, but when we love and care for ourselves, it always happens.
Four: When we take time to be still and kind and to listen to our bodies, we can trust the messages we hear. Doing so will lead us to greater levels of mental, physical, and emotional health.
Five: Emotional health is integral to physical health, and an important part of emotional health is processing emotions with caring friends and showing ourselves kindness in our suffering.
If you realize you are experiencing a lot of painful emotions, consider reaching out to a friend or a therapist. Doing these things is brave and wise and really isn’t a luxury. While we can process some painful things on our own, talking to a friend or therapist can greatly accelerate our healing process.
Peace to you, Friend. Here is to our collective physical, emotional, and mental health.
You can continue to read about my breathing journey here:
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on social media.
This post describes the beginning of my breathing practice:
I couldn’t find the original recipe I used for my Nutella bars, but here is one close to it.
By the way, my friend Jack whom I mentioned in this post is a personal trainer, and he is a genius in helping people practice self-love and self-care in order to transform themselves into everyday superheroes. This is Jack:
He was one of my inspirations that helped me begin my walking journey. He has an online course called The Compass that I bet you would enjoy. It begins in January. You can find information about it at the of his recent guest post here.
You can also find out more about it here at Jack’s page.